USS Icefish

3rd War Patrol Report

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c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California
20 April 1945

CONFIDENTIAL

From: Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ICEFISH (SS367)
To: Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet.
Via: (1) Commander Submarine Division TWO HUNDRED-TWO
(2) Commander Submarine Squadron TWENTY
(3) Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet
(4) Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet

Subject: U.S.S. ICEFISH (SS367), Report of War Patrol number Three.

Enclosure: (A) Subject report
(B) Track Chart (Comsubpac only)
(C) Exposed Film (Comsubpac only)

1. Enclosure (A), covering the third war patrol of this vessel conducted in EAST CHINA SEA during the period 20 February 1945 to 20 April 1945, is forwarded herewith.

R.W. Peterson


(A) PROLOGUE

Arrived Pearl from Second War Patrol 20 January 1945. Refit was accomplished by Submarine Division 42 Relief Crew and the Submarine Base.

The Training Period was conducted under the supervision of Commander Submarine Division One Hundred Sixty One. This was one of the most pleasant and beneficial training periods experienced by the officers of this ship.

During refit the following major work was accomplished:

(a) New Installations: Double hatches; ST radar; 40 mm. gun forward of conning tower; DRT in control room; DCDI; air-conditioning booster in control room; SJ radar TBT transmitter; dummy Pit log; filters on suction side of hydraulic plant IWO pumps; stop valves in compensating water lines to fuel ballast tanks; new propellers, new mufflers on all main engines; new Waterbury speed gears for steering and stern planes.

(b) Major overhaul items: Hydraulic plant telemotors and Waterbury speed gears for bow planes, steering and stern planes were overhauled. The bow planes Waterbury was found to have been improperly assembled at the factory and in bad condition, causing excessive noise. The steering and stern planes Waterburys were finally renewed, without appreciable reduction in noise level. Vents in the high points of hydraulic lines were installed (there had previously been no method of eliminating all air). The hydraulic system was flushed and the oil renewed several times. The bow planes ram was rolled to eliminate flat spots and smooth up scores. Installation of vents reduced bow noise to an appreciable extent and steering and stern planes noise to a lesser but notable degree.

The normal refit was extended from 4 February to 9 February when during routine cleaning of #3 and #4 main generators by the Submarine Base, resistance dropped from 7-8 megohms to 300,000 ohms, necessitating removal of brush rigging and end balls, spraying and cleaning to bring readings to normal. Refit was again extended from 9 February to 12 February for further work on hydraulic system and for along-side sound test.

Conducted training exercises 12-17 February, which included lifeguard training, firing of 5 MK14-3A and 8 MK27 torpedoes, and special exercises.

Loaded ship 18 and 19 February. Readiness for sea 20 February 1945.


(B) NARRATIVE

20 February

1332 Underway from Pearl in accordance with Comsubpac Operation Order 19-A-45, enroute GUAM. While standing out of the harbor we were forced over to the edge of the channel, inside the entrance buoys, by three LCI's cutting diagonally across the channel. A strong northerly breeze, plus having to kill headway to keep from colliding with these vessels put us very close to the reef on the southern edge of the channel. It was one of the best examples of poor sea manners and lack of consideration for the other vessel ever seen.

1440 Proceeding with escort. Made trim dive at 1636 and released escort at 2000.


4 March

0157 A dozen or so B-29's flew over us close aboard, headed north.

1612 Moored starboard side to U.S.S. GREENLET, along port side of U.S.S. HOLLAND, APRA HARBOR, GUAM.


6 March

1439 Underway from alongside U.S.S. HOLLAND, in company with U.S.S. KINGFISH . . .


11 March

0320 Entered patrol area south of SAKASHIMA GUNTO.


16 March

1142 Surfaced on station 22 miles east of KUSUAN TO to render lifeguard services for B-24 strike scheduled to start 1215. Sea force 5-6 from 30°T, skies heavily overcast, wind 20 knots, ceiling about 1000 ft.

1303 Group of friendly aircraft passed overhead but could not be seen. SJ showed them to be headed back toward PHILLIPPINES.


19 March

2228 Heard motors of an approaching aircraft. Dived on general principles, and O.O.D. sighted plane coming over us at 200 ft. elevation before he had the bridge cleared. This plane came in from a black rain cloud, was hurriedly identified as a 4-enginee job, probably an EMILY.


23 March

1950 Surfaced in force 5-6 seas from northward.

2001 Had several weak sweeps of SJ radar interference bearing 270°T, estimated range 35,000 yards. This interference had all the characteristics of SJ radar. Increasing intensity of interference and change in bearing to southward indicated a southeasterly course.

2110 After repeated attempts to get an answer to our challenge without success, changed course to 270d°T and increased speed to close.

2305 Interference now bearing 235°T, much stronger, with intermittent sweeps.

230 Changed course to head for the contact.

2335 Now have second pip, weak and fading, at 17,000 yards, 1500 yards closer than contact No. 1. Also have indications of a second radar, but definitely not SJ.


24 March

0005 Plot and TDC now have the targets stopping or circling.

0015 Momentary pip on third target, 21,000 yards, and to southwest of contacts No. 1 and 2 which now check on course 130°T, speed 2 to 6 knots. Now we have a third radar, also identified as not being SJ.

0017 Range to closest contact 9600 yards. The radical maneuvers and lack of any sizeable targets, plus the fact that all contacts made are apparently using radar make this look like an anti-submarine group or a group of escorts at a rendezvous.

0033 Plot now has two contacts cruising in a 1000 yard circle.

For the next 45 minutes both contacts were on course from 325°T to 140°T, speed 0 to 8 knots.

0016 Told KINGFISH that our contact was a possible anti-submarine group.

0128 Commanding Officer, in the conning tower was handed the following message; intercepted from the PUFFER, addressed to KINGFISH: "Position 23-40N 123 degrees (garbled group)) ABANDONING SHIP SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS." Executive and Communications Officer went to radio shack to check, and reported that KINGFISH was trying to raise PUFFER for a repeat of "group 5" and could not get an answer.

0140 The following message was handed to the Commanding Officer, still busy in the conning tower with the contacts: From PUFFER to KINGFISH - "Position (badly garbled) NEED ASSISTANCE (garble) ABANDONING SHIP SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS." This was accompanied by the relayed report from radio that the PUFFER'S transmitter sounded as though it was two feet under water. Both messages were properly authenticated. Heard SEA OWL ask PUFFER for a repeat of her last message, but heard no answer from PUFFER. Everything looked authentic about the situation except the position given, but it was understandable that a crew about to abandon ship might transmit a message to the submarine closest to her, giving the latter's position as an indication, under such circumstances. PUFFER was due to leave area soon.

0150 Contacts appear to be circling again.

0203 Transmitted ICEFISH serial 2-Urgent- to Comsubpac telling of interception of PUFFER'S message and that we were leaving the area to go to her aid. Headed west to clear what still appeared to be an anti-submarine group, and rounded YONAKUNI to head south at four-engine speed. Lost contacts at 21,000 yards.

0426 Intercepted message from PUFFER to Comdr. Pack 41. Broke message and learned that they were all right.

0433 Exchanged calls with the KINGFISH. Something very peculiar has happened; both boats are all right, and we have lost the first (and last) contact in this area as a result of the melee.

0515 Received a receipt or our serial 2 to Comsubpac -Urgent- informing him that PUFFER and KINGFISH were both all right and that ICEFISH was returning to her area. It was during this transmission that an analysis was completed, and it was deduced that the following had happened:

1. ICEFISH, at 0006, sent report to KINGFISH asking for her position.
2. KINGFISH, at 0035, replied to above, giving her position.
3. PUFFER, at 0128, transmitted to KINGFISH, using operator's sugnal "INT" followed by a very long break, which our operator did not associate with the message which followed; "Position 023° 40' 123° 261° ABANDONING SHIP, SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS." The Commanding Officer knew only of the quoted part.
4. KINGFISH asked PUFFER for repeat of group 5, which was the garbled longitude group.
5. Ten minutes later, the PUFFER, instead of repeating group 5 transmitted the following: "Position (garbled) NEED ASSISTANCE (garbled numerals groups) ABANDONING SHIP SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS." This transmission was preceded by "INT C", and our communicators did not give the deserved attention. Again the Commanding Officer was given only the quoted part.
6. Unable to raise KINGFISH on wolf pack and unable to hear PUFFER'S reply to SEA OWL's request for a repeat of her last transmission, ICEFISH sent urgent report to Comsubpac.
7. When it was learned that PUFFER and KINGFISH were both all right, ICEFISH transmitted another urgent message to Comsubpac with information that KINGFISH and PUFFER were both all right, that the transmissions were authenticated and that we were returning to the area.


1 April

1234 Sighted rusty, barnacle-covered drifting mine and for the next 40 minutes expended 300 rounds of 20 mm, several magazines of carbine and Tommy gun ammunition at ranges 50-150 yards, believe we got several 20 mm., hits, but the mine would not sink or explode.


12 April

0716 Sighted 4 unidentified fighters circling and zooming to southward, 6-8 miles on SD. Headed south, however, thinking these might be our air power. This belief was soon dispelled when one of these fighters fired on another; the latter began trailing black smoke, and headed away, very low, almost in the water, either disappearing over the horizon or crashing. Bearing of damaged aircraft was 177°T; headed that way at best speed.

0755 Sighted 60 to 70 Avengers, Corsairs and Hellcats, to southward, heading for FORMOSA.

0900 Have thoroughly searched the most probable area of the plane crash and have seen nothing.

1014 Sighted Mariner with two escorting Corsairs 5 miles south headed for Formosa. Communications were particularly strong now, so determined that these must be RODEO ABLE and FLOUNDER.

1103 RODEO and FLOUNDER appeared to be searching too far to westward, so repeated the position.

1109 RODEO and his escorting Corsairs now appeared to be coming more to eastward. At 3 mile, Mariner changed course slowly to our direction, and, when we were about to wave our greetings, opened up to FOUNDER with "ENEMY SUBMARINE ON MY STARBOARD BOW. GET HIM!" Looked around and decided that was us. We still hadn't made the team, so fired our flare and established the fact that we were the ones who had been talking to him all morning.


13 April

0944 Sighted a drifting mine, rusty, but with little visible sea growth. Exploded it with 20 mm.

1057 Received message announcing the death of the President of the United States.


15 April

2200 Held memorial services in honor of the late Franklin D. Roosevelt.


20 April

1315 Rendezvoused with escort, DE 701. Arrived APRA HARBOR, GUAM.


HEALTH, FOOD AND HABITABILITY

Health, in general, was excellent. There were few colds and no serious complaints. There were two cases of lacerated wounds during the patrol. One of these was a lower leg wound, occurring when a lookout fell down the hatch while clearing the bridge, and necessitated six deep sutures and nine skin sutures. The other was a mashed index finger.

Food was varied and well prepared. Fresh potatoes and onions lasted until the last of the patrol and were a great treat over the canned variety.

Habitability was good and considerably improved since the installation of the air-conditioning booster for the forward battery.


MILES STEAMED - FUEL USED

Pearl to Guam . . . 3850 miles . . . 61,300 gals.
Guam to area . . . 1543 miles . . . 19,780 gals.
In area . . . 5470 miles . . . 58,950 gals.
Area to Guam . . . 1750 miles . . . 22,840 gals.


DURATION

Days enroute to area (Pearl to Guam) . . . 19
Days in area . . . 35
Days enroute to Guam . . . 6
Days submerged . . . 23
Days surface and submerged . . . 12


REMARKS

It is quite obvious that we have control of the sea and limited control of the air in the area patrolled.

The only excitement on this patrol was during the strikes by BRITISH aircraft. The only reports of downed aviators received during these raids were cancelled or relayed to the lifeguard submarine in the adjacent area. ICEFISH therefore saved no aviators.

The only contact in the area was with three patrol vessels or escorts which carried radar similar to our SJ. One of these carried radar barely distinguishable from SJ. Their tactics were to circle at slow speed, change course radically, and attempt to jam our radar. They acted like an anti-submarine group. No contacts were reported by either of the other submarines of the group.


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